The Air that I Breathe Review

Title: The Air the I Breathe                                                    Author:  Chellerbelle

Source: X-Men Movies                                                          Character(s): Rogue & Gambit

Rating: M                                                                             Genre(s): Drama / Adventure

Chapter(s): 122                                                                    Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis:  Rogue copes with near isolationism when her powers return. Gambit accepts truths about himself he has tried to ignore. In this sweeping, multi-lifetime spanning tale, Rogue and Gambit circle each other like two immortal celestial bodies, waxing and waning, but will they ever find a moment in time to come together, or are they destined to live forever, just out of arm’s reach?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9701429/1/The-Air-That-I-Breathe

 

Welcome Readers, it’s the end of the week and I’m ready to review this monstrosity of a story; 122 chapters!  It’s been a long time since I read something this long and for a moment I was contemplating giving up on the story – I’ll delve into the why later – but I didn’t so now I can honestly say that I’ve read this story and can review it.  Ladies and gentlemen, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

This is a lengthy story and it has given me quite a bit to talk about but for sake of my sanity and to not bore everyone I’m going to limit what I talk about to my synopsis of the story and four main aspects of the story.  I’m going to be delving into the story’s connection to the Marvel-Fox movies (X1 – X3 and “Wolverine Origins”), the overwhelming amount of subplots, the characters, and the romance.  There are multitudes of other things I would love to touch on but I think keeping this review focused will be best for everyone; myself and you, the Readers.

This story chronicles the events and lives of Rogue and Gambit a few years after “X-Men: The Last Stand.”  Rogue regains her powers (as suggested at the end of the film with Magneto) only now they’ve been turned up exponentially; it’s no longer limited to skin-to-skin contact, now it’s being exposed within an X radius of Rogue and the abilities she drains are permanent.  This drastic increase in power and Rogue’s lack of control cause her to live a life of near isolation.  During her isolation she befriends Gambit and they strike up a relationship that lasts hundreds of years.

There’s a lot that happens in this story and I’ll touch on several of those points when I get to the subplots, but needless to say, Rogue and Gambit live very interesting lives in this story.  Each adventure weaves into the next part of the story and becomes more inventive as the technology changes and the expansion of humans from Earth to the outer reaches of space.  There is a lot of care that went into making this story and the events flow fluidly and connecting back to the movie foundation.

Speaking of the movies, this story holds to its source pretty well, particularly in the beginning with the cure and the events of the movies.  Even Gambit’s backstory is crafted using a mixture of Wolverine Origins, the comics, and original adaptation; the flaws from Origins are explained not as throw away excuses but as future subplot developments.  For instance, the reason why Gambit’s eyes are normal in the movie is explained as a byproduct of mutation experimentation he went under by Mr. Sinister.  Things like are nice nods to the movies while making a feasible, geek foundation in the comic lore.

The story makes several call backs to the movies.  At one point it’s to the kind of love triangle from X2 between Bobby, Rogue, and Pyro when Rogue reunites with Pyro on Asteroid M.  The relationship does not move beyond platonic but it’s nice to have the story rebuild the relationship and make it far better than the one in the movies.  At another point it’s to Hank McCoy’s role as a mutant liaison for the for government which the story expands out to S.H.I.E.L.D.

Speaking of S.H.I.E.L.D., this story subtly mingles the Marvel-Fox world with the MCU.  Most of it is in the form of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s involvement, Rogue joining Stark Industries, and Gambit befriending Tony Stark as a stockholder.  However, other MCU characters are mentioned or make brief appearances such as Hawkeye, Black Widow, Hulk, Thor, Vision, Scarlett Witch, and Captain America.

Despite the roots being in the movies, the story does not limit itself to the world of the movies.  For instance, it ignores “Days of Future Past” entirely and implements events from the comics such as Asteroid M, Mutant Town, the Mutant Registry, the war/alliance between Skrull, Kree, Brood, Shi’ar, etc.  There is so much that happens that have no basis in the movies but show up in the comics and other media versions.

A lot of the events that I mentioned are among the many subplots – and there are many subplots.  The subplots are all events that take place during Rogue and Gambit’s lives, they don’t always directly affect Rogue and Gambit but they all create some impact and get wrapped up at various points in the story.  For instance, there’s an entire portion of the story (several chapters) where Rogue’s desperation takes over and makes her suicidal; she attempts various (some very creative) suicide attempts only discover she has absorbed some mutant’s powers that counter her attempts.  It’s very heartbreaking and powerful, but makes the resolution even more heartening.

There’s the subplot of how involved should Rogue be in global/galactic events since her powers are so strong and she’s accumulated so many mutant abilities.  It’s a very long subplot that carries from the middle of the story (Apocalypse part 1) to the very end.  There’s the continual debate over if Rogue should be on the front lines of military operations and wiping out the enemies entirely using her absorption powers versus her using the powers in defense.  Rogue chooses not to kill others and actively uses her powers only to send aggressive enemies back to their home or away from endangering others.

The subplot with Candra, the Thieves Guild, and the Exilir of Life is lengthy and comes up periodically throughout the story until the end draws near, then the story becomes hyper aware that the subplot needs to be wrapped up.  It’s an okay wrap up but in some ways I forgot some of the build up to it because so many other things were going on like Mojoverse, the Cult of Apocalypse, everything with Hope Summers and the M’kaan crystal…

There are a lot of subplots and for most of the story it’s fine because events (world events) happen and Gambit and Rogue would be expected to somehow get involved or be informed of those events.  However, much later into the story the number of subplots going on is almost too much and it becomes difficult to keep track – much less interested – in everything going on.  Like I honestly don’t remember much about what happened in Mojoverse because it was the least interesting among the subplots.  I also didn’t care for the Shi’ar empire’s royal line, who married whom, and Katherine’s capture then rescue.

I need to take a breather because just mentioning all the various subplots has tired me out.  Plus, I need the breather before moving on to the next exhausting topic, the characters.

Alright, I’m back from my breather.  Let’s talk about the characters, I’ll start off easy with Rogue and Gambit.  Rogue is…nothing like the Rogue from the movies.  I know that the movies don’t really allow viewers to get to know Rogue on the personal level of Wolverine but the Rogue in this story feels galaxies away from the Rogue in the movies.  By no means is this bad, the Rogue in this story is very engaging even though she seems to carry her own soapbox.  I like that she’s really smart (x2 masters’ degrees in Environmental Engineering and Aerospace Engineering) and she’s an engineer.  It gives Rogue more to rely on than her mutant powers.

Gambit is similar to movie counterpart although far more badass.  He’s an actual thief in this story and he’s quite the lady’s man.  This story takes its time in developing Gambit’s character and establishing who is at the beginning and the changes that occur over the course of the story.  I will say that the Gambit at the end of the story is not nearly as badass as the Gambit at the beginning, but I guess that’s to be expected once a man has settled down once with kids.

Now as for the other characters, there are too many!  There are characters from the MCU Avengers, Thieves Guild, Externals, X-Factor, Starjammers, Deadpool, etc.  The list is endless!

The good part about all these characters is that it truly fills out the world and helps to showcase that time passes not in months or years but decades.  So, most characters who get introduced are there shorter periods of time until age catches up to them or they retire to the background.  On the flip side, there are so many characters getting rotated in and out of the story that it becomes hard to keep each of their stories straight and how they connect with characters from other subplots.  It’s especially bad near the end of the story when there are so many characters that I started wondering if these characters were necessary.  Here are some examples of characters who I have to wonder why they were included in the story.

First one up, Dust.  She’s in the story for one scene where she is confronted by Apocalypse and his horsemen, and then never seen or heard from again.  I think she died.  Anyways, the scene does nothing for the story except showcase Apocalypse and his horsemen but they show up later, and the terror that the group causes was already hitting home without this scene.  It feels like a waste of a character.

Next up is Quentin Quire.  He’s in the story for a good chunk of the time that Rogue is the Warden on the moon prison where he is an inmate for years and gives Rogue a hard time.  The next time he appears is when humanity is preparing for its first attempt at space exploration.  He’s the communication link between the ship and the headquarters as he’s the only telepath that can use the ship’s cerebro system to communicate across the galaxy.  During this time, he and Rogue have telepathic sex a couple of times but no real relationship forms and he suddenly drops out of the picture entirely.  About the only role he truly played is giving Rogue class 5 telepathy.

Finally, there’s Rachel Summers.  The story jumps to her a few times but then she suddenly disappears from the story once she reaches the safety of Sanctuary.  She’s used to set up the conflict between Hope Summers and Rogue but due to her sudden appearance then absence I wonder if she was truly necessary.  She feels like a throw away character and someone I didn’t need to spend any time following for this story.

With the number of characters in this story I know there are more that I could name who I wondered if they really were needed for this story, but I need to move on to the last topic; the meat of the story, the romance.

Normally, I’d say “slow build” for romances like this where the characters start off as friends and through the progression of time become more than friends, but “slow” seems too light of a word for this romance.  This romance is like the human evolution type of slow; small changes and takes centuries to see results.  This is not a flaw; I appreciate that the slow build is over 100 years.  I just find it a bit funny that this is a literal slow build romance.

What hurts the romance is that it’s the main plot of the story and the climax for it (Rogue and Gambit finally get together) happens with 30 chapters left to go.  Normally, following the climax is another chapter or two of falling action to wrap up loose ends and subplots, but this story took 30 chapters of falling action to wrap up every single subplot and to create new ones (Rogue finally touching Gambit).  It over stays its welcome.

Near the end, if feels less like a story about Rogue and Gambit coming together and more about all the subplots that need to get resolved.  The last 30 chapters focus more on anything else going on and when it returns to Rogue and Gambit it’s to show more scenes of Netflix and chill (literal and euphemism) and dinners with Gambit’s family.  The scenes begin to feel like filler while the story pieces together the conclusions for the subplots.

Hell, even the ending has nothing to do with the romance but everything to do with not abusing power and Rogue saving (x) people by taking them to a new universe.  It just falls flat so hard that I really started to not care.  I no longer cared about the Rogue and Gambit romance because they were already together, what the hell did I care if they could touch or not?  I didn’t care about the Mojoverse subplot or what Mystique was doing.  I didn’t care about what Hope Summers was up to or the Cult of Apocalypse.  I just ceased caring because the climax had come about a bit too soon.  At least it did for me.

Readers, this has been an exhausting experience to read this story and then review it.  I’m not touching on all the great things in this story or all the things that bothered me because there is just sooooo much in this story.  So, instead of going into a rant I will simply say that if you are an X-Man fan (comics and movies) and you have the time to spare to read this story, go for it.  It is a lengthy story and I don’t regret reading it.  I have been taken on a roller coaster rise and this story entertained me, made me cry, made me angry, and made me smile.  It’s thought out and thorough; maybe just a bit too ambitious.  But at the end of the day, it’s worth checking out.

 

Stars: 7.5/10

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Spit It Out Review

Title: Spit It Out                                                            Author: Extra-Loki

Original Source: Avengers                                             Character(s): Tony S. & Loki

Rating:  M                                                                     Genre(s): Angst / Hurt / Comfort

Chapter(s): 1                                                                   Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: So this is a story for rubberbandgirlme on Tumblr, They asked for a fic based on the song ‘Spit it out’ by IAMX (My favorite band so I couldn’t say no) Loki and Tony help each other with their inner turmoil in the most unhealthy way.  LokixTony, hurt and comfort, slight smut, okay maybe quite smutty but not too much detail.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10255773/1/Spit-it-Out

 

Welcome Readers, I was going through some reviews I had started a while back but never posted and found a review for this Avengers fan fic.  My initial review was a bit scathing and initial rating was 2/10; I read this and wondered if the story was truly as bad as I made it seem.  So I reread the story and rewrote my review.  Ladies and gentlemen, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

Written as an answer to a request, the story takes place between Avengers and Avengers 2.  Tony goes out to a seedy bar and meets a now mortal Loki (punishment from Odin), they exchange words that lead to a pick up line and one-night stand.  The one-night becomes a string of booty calls as both men try to fill their own voids.

This is not a story.  A story consists of three parts: beginning, middle, and end.  This story has a strong beginning but questionable middle and not end.  I would give it a pass on the lack of plot if the story was smut (it’s not) but even smut has three parts: foreplay, sex, and after sex.  This fic does not meet these basic qualifications.

Rather, this is the start of an interesting drama, angst-ridden, dysfunctional romance story.  As I mentioned, it has a strong beginning.  The bar and the conversation that Tony and Loki share, it sets the foundation to a great slash (yaoi) story.  It just doesn’t take it far enough resulting in this not-quite-a-story fic.

Now, if the fic was never meant to be a full-fledged story then it should reduce itself to a BDSM smut fic.  That’s part of the beauty of smut fics, like porn they don’t require much setup or a plot.  The fic could address how this dysfunctional relationship started and the amazing, animalistic sex that these two former enemies engage.  All that would be required is to leave out the events and scenes that are more emotionally charged, like Tony’s nightmares and Loki’s guilt.  Just mention that they are using each other fill in these voids that they have and let the fic be about how they accomplish this goal.  Done!  No need for complications.

However, the fic – as it is written – does bring to light the components that would make this a compelling, complicated story.  Aspects like Tony’s nightmares, Loki’s guilt, how the two parties avoid bringing love into the relationship, and how the two characters feel compelled to comfort the other.  These aspects are never fully explored but mentioned in different sections; almost like the fic is trying to tease Readers that there is a deeper meaning to the relationship but it can’t be bothered to explore it.

This is a personal grievance with stories that do this – tease more than it offers – because these stories set up great concepts but won’t go balls to the wall to deliver on these concepts.  I hate it, it speaks of lazy writing.

Then there’s the meat of the story – i.e. Tony and Loki’s relationship – its explained in exposition.  For instance, the story tells how some times after sex Tony will have a nightmare that causes him to awake screaming.  Loki will comfort Tony and eventually calm him; sometimes in calming Tony, Loki gets a bit sexual which triggers Tony into a primal state where he forcibly screws Loki while holding back his arms in a vice-like grip.  This sounds like an emotional experience but it loses its power because it’s all told in exposition.  The Readers are told Loki thinks of this as punishment for what he did to Tony in Avengers and how Tony feels guilty in the morning, but Readers don’t get to read the characters experiencing these feelings.  It all falls flat.

Exposition has a purpose when trying to bring the Readers up to speed on key events, but in the case of this fic it’s unnecessary.  In fact, it damages the narrative.  It makes this dysfunctional relationship between Tony and Loki feel dull.  They feel like dolls, just going through the motions while the exposition says what they’re meant to feel.

This is a story that has potential yet doesn’t seem to want to create a story that makes use of that potential.  It’s a pity too because there’s great material to build a story.

In closing, I don’t think I can recommend this fic to others.  It’s stuck between being a story and not.  It couldn’t decide to be a smut fic or a narrative about a dysfunctional relationship.  It has too much exposition to make it compelling and no ultimate conclusion.  If anything this story shows the importance of having a focused goal when writing a story; if the goal is to showcase the dysfunctional relationship, then show the relationship.  If the goal is to have a smut fic, then focus on the smut.  Without this focus the fic falls short.

 

Stars: 4.5/10

The Title Has Yet to Occur to Me Review

Title: The Title Has Yet to Occur to Me                                    Author: Miss Misled-Bloodshed

Original Source: Johnny the Homicidal Maniac                      Character(s):  Nny

Rating: T                                                                               Genre(s): Parody / Humor

Chapter(s): 1                                                                          Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis:  Johnny is having a lovely day torturing someone, when pop culture decides to be a bitch…

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10255723/1/The-Title-Has-Yet-To-Occur-To-Me

 

Welcome Readers, to another fan fic to review.  This time around it’s a short story featuring the homicidal comic of my high school years, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.  I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer, here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

For as much as I loved JTHM in high school, it had never occurred to me to go check out the fan fiction for the comic.  Admittedly, I happened upon this one because I was going through FFN’s list of new uploads.  The title made me skeptical about the contents; it kind of made me think I was rolling a D-20.  I could get a critical success and end up reading an amazing story.  Or I could end up rolling a critical fail and have discovered the abominations of all fan fiction.  Either way, I took the gamble and…it was alright.  Not amazing but far from terrible.

The story is Nny torturing a hapless victim who made the common mistake of slighting the maniac and during the torture session the radio changes from playing classical music to pop (Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty to Me”).  Irritated by the noise coming from the machine, Nny tries to change the station (or turn the radio off) but to no avail.  He must endure the song “Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction as he destroys the radio bit by bit.

I know there’s the whole set up for a Robot Chicken type scenario where Nny could track down the band and murder all the members, but that doesn’t happen.  Instead, Nny learns from his torture victim that the group is coming to the town soon.  Finishing off his victim, Nny goes to prepare his tools for another massacre.

This one-shot is pretty short so I’m a bit limited on what is available to talk about, but I do have a few items I’d like to address.

What this story does really well is reflect the comic’s story telling style; erratic.  Switching from exposition to action; Nny torturing to Nny being tortured; the sudden ending with a quesi-cliffhanger.  I don’t actually enjoy this style of writing, but there are cases – such as this – where this style works.  It works because it’s in line with the original source’s writing style.  I don’t think it would have worked if the original source was written more like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

In addition to the erratic style, the story doesn’t take itself too seriously.  This is great because a story based off JTHM should not take itself serious.  It’s combine these (not so graphic) torture scenes with Nny engaging in conversation with his victim about One Direction.  Nny’s efforts to make the music stop are comically over the top and cartoonish that it’s just fun to read and imagine it happening.

The only issues I have with the story are its brevity and inclusion of song lyrics.  I do not think that this should be a multi-chapter story, keeping it a one-shot is perfect, but it still felt very short.  I almost would have preferred it starting at the point when the hapless victim insults Nny and ends up disappearing.  Or the story going on a little further to Nny actually preparing himself to go to the One Direction concert.  Adding a bit more to the beginning or to the end would’ve help give this one-shot fullness.  Right now it kind of feels like a few pages of the comic that are missing the surrounding pages that start and end this misadventure.

As for the song lyrics, I understand that some authors like to use them in stories and there are times when they can be helpful.  However, as a general rule of thumb, I like to avoid them.  Unless the lyrics truly add something to the story being told, don’t include them.  In this case they didn’t add much other than length.

Overall, this one-shot is pretty entertaining and I don’t feel like I rolled a critical fail by reading it.  Readers, if you’re looking for a quick story with a sense of humor and you don’t mind the dark humor of JTHM then give the story a read.  It’s quick and feels a bit like an anti-One Direction fan’s fantasy.

Stars: 6.5/10